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Should You Hire Attitude Over Skills?

By Poyen Ramos on March 13, 2017

In a perfect recruitment world, you'd hire someone whose attributes are equally great as their skills and experience. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and finding a candidate with both is as difficult as finding a needle in haystack.

You've probably heard the famous line "Hire character, train skill," by Peter Schutz, so this isn't really a new HR dilemma. But do we really know the benefits of each? We've differentiate both which will hopefully be helpful during your next hiring process.

Hiring For Character

There are a number of companies who hire new employees based on their character and then train them on the job. They do this with the idea that it's easier to teach or enhance a person's skill, but difficult to change their character.

Experienced and talented employees with bad attributes often fail at their jobs. However, the less experienced or perhaps second-best employees with great attitudes tend to succeed long-term. This doesn’t mean you don’t pay attention to technical skills. Just don’t make technical skills you main focus.

Character can be considered more valuable than an having an MBA or PhD. They can have all the necessary experience and skills, but if their personality does not fit the company culture, are they the best person to hire?

Hiring For Skills

On the other hand, you could also argue that a person’s character can only get them so far. When real talent and skills are needed, attitude might not be enough to succeed. This is where skills and experience reign supreme.

Imagine interviewing someone with with a great attitude but doesn't have the necessary certifications that are required for the job. Think, nurse, engineer, architect, doctor. That would be a safety hazard, not to mention a waste of time.

When you hire for skills versus attitude, try to get the best talent available. A team of happy employees is great in theory, but if they do not have the qualifications to succeed, you may find yourself stuck in a rut.

Ultimately, always look for the best of both worlds when hiring a candidate: they must have the willingness to be trained with new skills and have a great character.

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